I was sitting peacefully when Maria – my 4 year old daughter – suddenly approached me.
“Daddy, I’m frustrated!” she said. I was simply amazed that she even knew a word that I only learned in college.
“Why are you angry, my love?” – I replied assuming an inquisitive posture.
“I said I am Frustrated!!” – she answered annoyingly highlighting the intonation of “frustrated”. Maria then showed me a broken piece of her toy that she got in her Kinder Surprise Egg.
“Maria, it’s ok. Please don’t be mad!” I commented in a caring and calming voice.
“I told you, I’m F.R.U.S.T.R.A.T.E.D!!! Grrrrrrr” then she stormed out of the room!
I was puzzled.
The competency of “accurately identifying and understanding feelings” is called Emotional Literacy, as defined by Six Seconds. At first, this might seem simple but naming feelings can be challenging considering that that there are 3,000 English words to describe our emotions. Emotions are far more complex than “bad, mad, sad, and glad”. Emotional Literacy is the powerhouse of self-awareness and the foundation underpinning other competencies of emotional intelligence described in many EQ models.
Recently scientific research shows that even the first step itself – accurately naming the emotion – enables us to balance our reaction, hence the phrase “Name it to tame it”. Once accurately recognized, named and understood emotions become easier to manage – or “to navigate” according to the EQ lingo! Benefits of managed emotions include controlling our impulses, being more mindful when responding, and being more present while listening. On a more profound level, mastering managing our emotions can serve our leadership in areas such as reframing, empathy and influencing.
Whether you are a leader of a high-performing team, a father of a curious child, or a member of a volatile community, effectively developing your emotional intelligence will empower your success. The journey to develop your EQ starts with enhancing your emotional literacy. Here are three strategies to catalyze this journey:
A. Exercise Awareness of your emotions during daily interactions from being interrupted by a reckless driver on your way to the office, to looking at your overflow in your inbox, all the way to the conversation on the dinner table. Try to find the accurate name of the exact emotions you are feeling.
B. Develop Fluency and deepen your arsenal of emotions literature using a variety of tools such as Plutchik Model, Emotions Cards, Feeling Faces…
C. Consult a Coach who could support your gradual development and hold you accountable to be emotionally smarter. Effective coaches use EQ assessments, reflections tools and insightful conversations to enhance your learning.
Now back to Maria and her emotional fluency. Since our puzzling conversation, I have been trying to appreciate the nuances of my feelings’ cocktail towards her. It usually ranges between love, pride and gratitude.
 Six Seconds is a leading organization that promotes EQ globally